There’s plenty of Patriots fever in well-lit Gillette Stadium
Lights, camera, but really, not a whole lot of action.
The 15,000 or so at Gillette Stadium on Monday night didn’t care. They got to see their favorite players do their thing.
“Everybody’s watching you man,” Cordarrelle Patterson, one in a big mix of New England Patriot receivers, said. “The media. You have fans at practice. I’ve got to stop thinking of so much going on…
“My first kick I dropped. A lot of fans out here.”
Welcome to Foxborough, Cordarrelle. Where there’s glitz and glitter. Monday was the annual Patriots season ticket holder practice, and almost like a Silver Knights game, fans stayed in their lower bowl seats for a fireworks/lazer show after practice. Patterson never saw this before.
“No, not at (a) practice,” he said, shaking his head. “It’s real good to get out here and see it first hand.”
Patriots newbies aren’t used to all of this. Patterson, who could very well be the team’s main kickoff return man, has speed to burn, but didn’t see this with Oakland or his previous tenure in Minnesota.
But the man who runs the show doesn’t want glitz and glamour. Patterson said that the Patriots pay attention to every detail, and sure enough Bill Belichick wanted the details of Gillette covered with his team. After all, there’s that huge preseason tilt with the Redskins a week from Thursday, right?
“Tonight’s an opportunity for us to get out into the stadium and just kind of take advantage of that setting,”Belichick said. “This will be the only time we’ll do that before the Washington game. We’ve got new lights. We’ve got really our only time on the field.
“Certainly a good opportunity for our returners to handle the ball and also get used to seeing the ball against a different backdrop than what we’ve seen out there on the practice field.”
Defensive lineman Danny Shelton, another Patriot newbie, followed the Patriot way.
“I thought it was pretty cool,” said the defensive lineman, acquired from the Browns in yet another trade. “When I was taking my visit here in March, we didn’t have time to take a tour around the stadium because of all the snow.”
“I think it was a big factor, the energy, being able to make big plays in front of the crowd,” Shelton said. “It is pretty amazing to see everybody here. It makes me wonder if anybody has a job.”
There you go, nothing gets between the fans and their Patriots. Remember Shelton played in Cleveland, where they love their Browns but don’t get as hyped up for a winless team.
“They were out here on Sunday too,” Shelton said of the fans with a chuckle. “So it feels good to know we have so much support here. … I’m just taking it day-by-day. It’s been great so far, a great experience.”
The Patriots are being snobs this summer though. There are no joint practices with another team.
“We take advantage of every day we have, so whatever those bring we try to take advantage of them,” Belichick said. “We’ve practiced against teams, we’ve not practiced against teams. I don’t think it’s that big of a deal.”
Guess what – neither is preseason, until somebody gets hurt.
But don’t tell that to the fans who got to see their football heroes at Gillette on Monday night, up close and personal. They loved watching rookie offensive tackle Isiah Wynn try to catch two punts at the end of practice. He flubbed the first, but caught the second and the Patriots went nuts. What, fun? His catch likely meant an extra night off from curfew.
Anyway, Shelton has the fever.
“All right, go Pats! “ he said as he walked away.
And just think, it’s not even August.
Tom King can be reached at 594-1251,email@example.com., or @Telegraph_TomK.